Discover reasons to visit the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens near Orlando with guest blogger and Instagram influencer Brianna Watson.

Did you know that there is a zoo right here in the Orlando area? The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is in Sanford, just 35 minutes north of the main tourism districts. This local gem features over 350 animals and presents fun for visitors of all ages.

Discover: Orlando Ecotourism

As you stroll, you are engulfed in the natural Florida wooded scenery. Several exhibits and encounters also allow you to get up close and personal with the animals as you move throughout your day here. Here’s why you’ll want to make the Central Florida Zoo part of your plans the next time you’re in Orlando.

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Must-Do’s at the Central Florida Zoo

Feed a Giraffe

This experience does come with an extra cost, but I promise it’s completely worth it. For $5 per person, you can feed a giraffe up-close and personal. Timing can change based on weather, but this is typically offered daily between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Check Out the Gardens

Like the name says, the Central Florida Zoo is also home to botanical gardens — 23 acres of them, in fact. We enjoyed the butterfly garden along with learning about different plants.

Keeper Chats

Check the board when entering to see when these are happening. Keeper Chats allow you to learn about an animal. Typically, it is done twice daily, but it’s always recommended to ask a zoo employee for details.

What Does the Central Florida Zoo Have for Children?

The Central Florida Zoo does an amazing job making their exhibits child friendly. While most kids are excited for the animals, we all know that visiting these locations can be wonderful learning experiences. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for plain old fun here, too.

For example, kids can play on a playground while parents relax on the benches surrounding the area. Guess what else you can find here? A splash pad! The tropical splash ground is open daily and perfect for a hot day, so do not forget to pack the kids’ swimsuits.

You will also find a butterfly garden in which children can roam and a petting zoo, plus human-sized chess. The children’s garden was a wonderful spot to just unwind and let kids enjoy the sand and scenery. They do an amazing job providing an environment where kids will not want to leave.

Bonus: Looking for a fun birthday idea? How about celebrating at the zoo with a ZOOper Birthday Party package? It is a great way to throw a party for your favorite animal lover or present a fun and unique birthday party theme.

What to Know Before You Go

Before heading to the Central Florida Zoo, keep these tips in mind:

  • No outside food or beverages are allowed inside the zoo. I suggest eating prior to arrival or grabbing food from the Graze Kitchen on site.
  • It is highly recommended to purchase tickets prior to visiting. Not only will this help expedite entrance into the zoo, but it can save you money as well. Locals can also purchase an annual pass.
  • On-site wagon, stroller and wheelchair rentals are available if needed. These are first come, first served, and can sell out on busier days.
  • Several activities have additional fees. The Giraffe Feeding, Barnyard Buddies Petting Zoo and Seminole Aerial Adventures zip-line course all have separate pricing.

This park is a great family-friendly destination and perfect for visitors and locals alike. Make sure you add the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens to your list of things to do the next time you’re in the Orlando area.

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